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tv   The Hidden World of Designer...  BBC News  December 18, 2021 1:30pm-2:01pm GMT

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hello, this is bbc news. the headlines: government scientific advisors warn tougher covid restrictions may be needed �*very soon�* in england — to avoid a steep rise in hospital admissions as cases of the omicron variant surge. shopping centres and football stadiums are among nearly 3000 venues in england offering booster jabs this weekend. some will open round—the—clock. the uk's top civil servant steps down from running an inquiry into downing street parties — because of an event in his own office. the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell — who denies sex trafficking charges in the united states — has told the court she won't be giving evidence. football — and aston villa's match against burnley is the latest premier league game to be postponed due to covid—19. that leaves just one match due to take place in the premier league today, with leeds united taking on arsenal.
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now on bbc news, as demand and prices soarfor dogs, bbc wales investigates the hidden world of designer dog breeding. the hidden world of good boy, griff! you've been such a good boy! these are what are known as micro bullys. they've been bred to be really, really small. these were all seized from a breeder. there were reports of unlicensed breeding. meet griff, lined up to become a stud dog by his owner. he's actually got spinal deformity.
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he's dragging his hind legs, falling over probably every four or five steps. the vet report that we've got from the specialist vet said he shouldn't be bred from. the whole purpose of the breed is to try and make them as small and stocky as possible. lots of muscle and bone into a very, very small frame. their legs are splayed out, they're so muscley. it's cruelty breeding, there's no other word for it. griff and the other pups are being looked after at this south wales rescue centre. casualties of a trade in designer dogs. the local authority actually seized them with a view to prosecuting them. and when they went in, they could obviously see that they'd had their ears cropped as well. sadly, there is a demand for dogs with their ears mutilated. they actually cut the floppy bit
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of the ear off. this is what he should look like. look.should have lovely, lovely floppy ears like this. they are the ears he would have had. it's purely an aesthetic to achieve a certain look that some people think is attractive. they go for anything from 3000 uptoi0,000, 15,000. phenomenal amounts of money. so, you can have a litter that's literally worth about £60,000. it's illegal to cut a dog's ears like this in the uk, but at the moment you can import one with its ears already cropped. tonight, we'll show what the huge demand for dogs has led to. there are laws in place to protect animals, but we've found plenty of backyard breeders that are staying one step ahead of the authorities to make some serious cash.
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griff was owned by this man, christopher may, from cardiff. he has a criminal record and a large following online. griff and his other pups were seized, and it will be up to a judge to decide if he gets his dogs back. social media is a big marketplace. plenty of legitimate breeders, but also those keen on cropped ears. we found this account with tens of thousands of pounds worth of pups. lots of dogs pictured with cut or cropped ears. it's run by this man. he calls himself sons—of—adam and posts clips like this.
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under his brand name, we found images of puppies for sale with their ears intact... ..and then what appears to be the same litter with their ears cut. so, we get in touch, and he agrees to meet. undercover, we pose as buyers. she's special, she's best of breed. the deal was, if we paid £2,000 pounds we could jointly own the dog with him, and we'd all make money from breeding valuable puppies. and what can he tell us
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about his dog's cropped ears? we leave without handing over any money. but adam wasn't the only breeder we came across. many simply posted pictures of pups and waited for a response. deals are then done through direct messages, a marketplace hidden from public view — but one that we have just entered. this account is called "cardiff finest bullz". again, dog after dog with cropped ears. similar extreme features as we saw at the rescue centre earlier. this man, joshua harty,
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seems to be behind the account. hello? he starts to tell us how he runs his business. the asking price is £13,000. we ask to see the puppy for ourselves. the following day, we're sent to an address in swansea. we meet ricky, one of the so—called puppy nannies.
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when we ask ricky about illegal ear cropping, he gives us some advice. so, what ricky has just revealed is that dogs are having their ears cut by a vet in the uk, then being given a foreign pet passport to make it look like it was done abroad.
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we said we'd think about it, and left. as rickyjust told us, cropping is illegal in the uk. but online, you're struck byjust how many dogs in this country have had the procedure, and how popular it seems to have become. with more and more dogs turning up with cropped ears at hope rescue, we co nta ct we contactjosh or hartigan, he agrees to sell us a pop, but what about its use?
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but how convincing is the fraudulent paperwork he is offering us? a puppy a puppy with cropped ears and paperwork to put the authorities of the scent, all for 13 grand. but he says he doesn't tell the taxman everything.
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today, christopher may — griff�*s owner — is due in court, accused of illegal dog breeding and cropping their ears. he didn't speak to us outside, although someone who arrived with him did. we are allowed to film, it's a public space. i'm allowed to block, it's a public space. don't touch me, i know my rights. don't touch the camera. that's worth a lot of money. do you know what, i will find out what your address is, mate. i've recorded that. that's a threat, you see. how is that a threat? i will come round and i will speak to you. you'll find my address, will you? i will pop round and we will have a nice little chat. he was a fairly well established breeder, was producing quite a lot of litters, and seemingly been doing it for some time. sarah smith is in charge of prosecuting illegal breeders.
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her team investigated christopher may. these are some of the cropped ears found at the time. they'd recently been done becuase they were in the process of healing. actually, obviously, it causes distress to the animal. it's not being done legitimately anywhere cos it's illegal practice, so this is being done behind closed doors, in people's homes or garages. he claimed he'd bought his dogs with their ears already cropped. he never applied for a license, so therefore he was never inspected. so, officers couldn't check on the environment or welfare. but after a tip off, they did find evidence. we found social media posts with their ears,
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with them intact, then subsequently with them cropped. ina very in a very short space of time. it's something we're seeing more and more of. we know from some of the people that we've already investigated that they will have previously been linked to drugs and drug charges. the money that they they're obtaining from those sales is acquisition of criminal property. the first breeder we spoke to — who called himself adam — has now posted another advert for another litter. he wants £13,000.
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he offers us prescription only medicines, vaccinations, and there's another service.
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next he says we can video call him, to see the pup for ourselves. he tells us what he can arrange to happen to her ears. he's just shown us how she'd be cropped. so who would carry that out?
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we now have evidence of the lengths that some breeders will go to to make money. i would say his practices are abhorrent. he's ultimately advocating an illegal, painful, unnecessary mutilation. daniella dos santos is the former president of the british veterinary association. what, if any, laws have been breached here? they're breaching the animal welfare act. cropping of ears is an illegal mutilation. it's done for no other reason than,
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as he said, cosmetic reasons. it's all for status. there is no health benefits to these dogs at all. if we look at vaccines for dogs, they are prescription only medications. so they have to be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. he's not a licensed seller of these medications and he's not a veterianry surgeon, so that is where the illegal activity is happening. we also ask daniella about the second breeder, joshua harty... ..and his associates. this sounds like a horrendous syndicate — multiple people involved at multiple different stages with these dogs. at one point, they said they're moving the puppies at a certain point because they don't need the mother anymore. that's not true. already, everything else aside, this is not a situation that would ever produce well—socialised, happy puppies. what do you make of this breeder
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and what he's suggesting? it's all illegal. it's all completely illegal — the cropping of ears, the false passports. everything about this is a dodgy system. i think this whole situation, however, talks to a more — a wider social issue here. we are harming these dogs purely because we want them to look a certain way. the reason this is happening is because there is a loophole that allows the importation of dogs with cropped ears. and that's just acting as a smokescreen, clearly, for it happening in the uk. the uk government plans to close the loophole and ban the importation of dogs with cropped ears from abroad. it could also ban dogs under the age of six months from coming in as well — cutting off a cheap supply of puppies. but dealers have told us that getting hold of a dodgy pet passport can help cover up their illicit activities. so will any new law be enough?
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0ur undercover team do a quick search online and find a bully breeder in romania. phone rings. he's willing to crop the dog's ears and send the pup to wales. when we ask, the breeder — flavian vargas — also says he can provide fraudulent pet passports. the price is £250. there's even a discount if we buy five or more. it's got all the vaccination stickers, a vet's stamp in all the right places but otherwise, it's completely blank.
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dodgy pet passports aren'tjust useful for covering up ear cropping. they can be used to bring in dogs that are legally too young to travel. we've got three puppies here that they've given a passport. sadly, the information in that passport is falsified, so they're declared to be older than they actually are. and the journeys they undertake are awful. you know, great lengths — certainly in excess of 2a hours, often no food, very little water, no stops. there were actually four puppies in this group that were seized, and sadly, one of them passed away. so sometimes we do see that. paula says that tougher importation rules will only work if someone actually looks at the animals at the border. currently, there's no requirement to do so. the checks aren't fit for purpose, but the penalties aren't there either. if you were caught illegally importing a puppy, the maximum sentence you would get is 12 months imprisonment.
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compare that to say smuggling cigarettes, the maximum sentence is up to seven years, and if you were caught smuggling cigarettes, you wouldn't get your cigarettes back. whereas somebody caught illegally importing puppies can potentially pay the quarantine fees and reclaim their puppies and still make a profit. dog growls and barks. a few days later, the pet passport we bought from romania arrives. this is what the people who cut dogs' ears in the uk use to hide their crimes. now we could put the details of any dog we liked in here, to suggest it was imported and not cropped illegally in this country. and if this is how easy it is to get round the checks in the system — how effective would any new animal welfare legislation actually be? what would the vet paula boyden make of it — how authentic is it? i don't think anybody at the border would raise concerns.
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what does it say about the efficacy of the whole passport system? it certainly brings it all into question. and the man who illegally sold us the passport — what would he have to say? hi, mrvargas? yeah. hi, flavian vargas, you sell american bullys, i've seen your pictures on the internet. look, i'm from the bbc in the uk. can you tell us why you sold us a fraudulent pet passport? disconnected tone mr vargas? well, mr vargas clearly doesn't want to answer our questions. in cardiff, bully breeder christopher may is hurrying back into court. but this time, he won't be leaving as fast. he's got 16 weeks. he was sent down. he was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail
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for breeding dogs without a licence and animal cruelty offences, including ear cropping. but vanessa from hope rescue suspects that other breeders are already following in may's footsteps. i've recently identified at least 30 breeders in the cardiff area, many of them had ear cropped dogs. we work with excellent enforcement officers. theyjust don't have the resources to investigate all of the cases that have been reported to them. animal welfare is the responsibility of the welsh government. the minister declined to do an interview, but we were told that: "in order to tackle illegal dog breeding, the government was funding "a three—year project led by trading standards officers." and it had brought in new regulations and was monitoring developments closely. it's people like sarah smith and her
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team who will be on the frontline, enforcing those regulations. i think it's well documented the cuts that we've experienced over recent years. i think this year, to date, we've had 400 reports into trading standards across wales about illegal dog breeding. authorities can't deal with that. so, you know, we have got now an established team that's got a wales—wide remit that's specifically looking at illegal dog breeding. but still, 400 complaints is a significant amount of work. but what about the backyard breeders who told us they could help arrange to have dogs' ears cut and provide dodgy passports? joshua harty, from "cardiff's finest bullz", offered us that service for £500. and ricky from swansea, who gave us
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tips on illegal cropping. we repeatedly tried to contact them, but they've gone silent on us. and then there's adam — full name, moheiz adam. we've now discovered he has a conviction for the possession of drugs with intent to supply. so when we pay him a visit, what does he have to say about what he'd offered to supply us? hi, mradam, mr moheiz adam, i'm from the bbc. mr adam, can we speak to you about your dogs, please? mr adam... just give me two minutes,
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i'm on the phone. ok, will you speak to us? dog barks 0k. he's been refusing to say why he offered to help arrange for a dog's ears to be cut. i've never arranged to have it done. you've never arranged to have a dog's ears cropped? ears cropped, that's correct. mutilated? yes. there's nothing wrong with dog cropping, it'sjust illegal in this county. if i wanted to keep a pup or buy a pup, and it had ears, i would like to get the ears removed. however, it's not legal in this country. so you would no longer do that, would you? when you keep repeating "you would no longer do it", i have never done this. arranged for it to be done? i've never arranged for it to be done. would you give somebody — one of your clients — needles and jabs to inoculate their own dogs? not really. i've never done that. however, if i had access, you know, if i can get it arranged for them from my vet, then, yes, i could administer them if they wanted, but i wouldn't advise any of my clients to do it. are you a licenced dog breeder? i am a hobby breeder not a licenced dog breeder.
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what i am is what you call a dog whisperer. i understand dogs very well, i can communicate with them. you're a dog whisperer? yes. some people might smirk at this, and i can tell you, i can prove to you otherwise. right, thank you guys, you can turn it off now. the authorities now say they will be looking into our investigation and the evidence we've uncovered. but things are now looking up for griff. he has finally found a new home... ..just in time for christmas.
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hello. for many of us it was a bit of a misty, murky start to the day and things are not changing in a hurry through the rest of the weekend really, because we have got high pressure draped right across the uk, keeping things largely and settles, draped right across the uk, keeping things largely ——dry and settled, but largely trapping and a lot of low cloud and moisture, so some mist and fog patches and for some of us as we head into this afternoon, those fog patches will linger and especially for parts of the east, perhaps central and southern scotland, we could see a few fog patches all day, but the best of the sunshine will be across the higher ground of central scotland, perhaps the north of england, the pennines for instance, into western parts of wales as well. central and eastern areas stay murky through the course of the day and into this evening and overnight, not changing in a hurry. there could be some more frost and fog as well, particularly across parts of scotland and the north
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of england, that is where temperatures will fall lowest, so a frosty start here, but milder under the blanket of the cloud in the south. a similar day to today, really, tomorrow, again mostly cloudy, dry, some sunshine for scotland, western parts of england and wales and northern ireland, and highs of five to ten.
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this is bbc news — with the latest headlines: government scientific advisors warn tougher covid restrictions may be needed "very soon" in england — to avoid a steep rise in hospital admissions as omicron cases surge. football stadiums and shopping centres are among nearly 3000 venues in england offering boosterjabs this weekend — some are open round—the—clock. a woman arrested following a fire at sutton in south london in which four young boys died has been bailed — the 27—year—old, who was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, will return to a south london police station in mid—january. the uk's top civil servant steps down from running an inquiry into downing street parties — because of an event in his own office. the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell, who denies sex—trafficking charges
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in the united states, has told the court she won't be giving evidence.

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